Are You a Hiring Manager's Dream Employee? Part 2
In this series of articles, I have been discussing managers' opinions on qualities they value in a "Dream Employee." In Part 1, I shared three aspects: Servitude, Attitude, and Intelligence. In this post, I'll highlight two more essential qualities to master for career growth: Good Communication and Being the "Real Deal."
Being a Good Communicator
I'm not exaggerating when I say that over 90% of the candidates I talk to tell me they are an excellent communicator. And yet, in interviews or presentations, some of these same people fall into traps that show they have more to learn about communication.
We all have heard how essential it is to make direct eye contact and most of the managers interviewed mentioned this. One Senior Quality Manager even said, "Quit looking at your note pad during the interview." One of the key takeaways from my discussions with these managers was well-stated by one COO: " Open up. Avoid Yes/No or one-sentence answers as it makes you appear overtly cautious."
Several managers stated the importance of their employees being articulate and polished. But what does this really mean? A few leaders took this aspect a little further. One said, "You need to be able to make your argument well – or we won't listen." In other words, are you concise, clear, and factual? One HR leader shared that you must have a strong business vocabulary, but watch out for using all buzz words and just regurgitating articles. Another manager had more to say regarding style and approach for good communication:
"I look for people who are willing to state a point of view, and perhaps even provide a rationale for it--preferably something more enlightened than "it's my opinion and I'm entitled to it." In the consulting world, we're looking for people who can help create change, so being persuasive and having conviction both matter."
There is one aspect to communication many do not think about: Listening. In interviews I conduct, if the candidate does not answer the question I asked, I begin to wonder how well this candidate would take direction from their boss. You need to make sure you stop thinking about what you're going to say next when you are supposed to be actively listening.
Communication is a skill that takes practice and sometimes formal training. Do not assume you are a master until you meet the one HR leader's criteria: "Someone who just really impresses the whole team when they speak. Someone you know would have instant credibility just a few minutes into a discussion with an internal or external customer."
Are You The Real Deal?
Most managers will tell you they are looking for someone who is honest and genuine. One manager defined that uniquely as, "I'm not looking for a brown-noser or someone who is rehearsed." When asked for more detail on this, she explained:
"I don't want someone who comes in and tells me exactly what I want to hear. I really want to know who you are as a candidate. Think back to your dating days. Did you ever date someone who decided they liked salsa just because you did? I want the real person who fits naturally."
Being the "Real Deal" also means the job candidate can give concrete examples of their work. One manager said, "They will need to provide specific examples of what their personal role was and what impact it had on the business."
The theme here is being able to present yourself as a viable candidate for the job or promotion. You need to articulate how you would make a positive impact immediately. Another manager expects candidates have researched their company. He said one of the biggest mistakes they could make in the interview would be to ask, "What do you do?" Additionally, there is an expectation that you be as interested in their business as you are about your expertise.
If you are the "Real Deal," you can also back up your resume and interview claims with solid references. A senior leader at a large computer manufacturer shared with me, "I only hire people who come from personal recommendations from someone I know and respect.
Read the Entire 'Dream Employee' Series:
- Part 1: Servitude, Attitude, and Intelligence
- Part 3: Being Well-Rounded and Adding Value
- Part 4: Forward Thinking and Cultural Fit